Obsessed as I was with the notion of being an astronaut as a kid, one thing bothered me about it. Nope, it wasn’t the mysterious complexities of using the bathroom in outer space or even subsisting on freeze-dried foods. The notion of being alone, or perhaps confined in a small space with a handful of other people while more than 200 million miles from home, tugged at my extroverted heart. How did they do it, I wondered. Was their commitment to exploring the universe greater than the need to be with others?
I keep flashing back to that thought in these days of social distancing. Staying at home is essential to flattening the curve and containing the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). We all need to do our part during this crazy, often overwhelming time. But I’ve realized that being physically distant doesn’t mean you have to be alone or stop doing things that bring you joy. Here are four ways to thrive while practicing social distancing guidelines:
Stay connected with others. I adore my husband and would rather stay-at-home with him than anyone. However, I miss socializing and actively sought more connection this past weekend. Met a friend for a socially distanced walk in her neighborhood, where we stood at least eight feet apart. On Saturday night, I attended a virtual birthday party for a buddy on Zoom, singing happy birthday off-key to the honoree and swapping funny stories. Then on Sunday, I participated in an online family check-in call hosted by a cousin in Charleston, South Carolina. My 82-year-old mother was there, as were family members in California, Texas and Kansas in a visual display reminiscent of the Brady Bunch television show intro. All of that connection was so good for my soul and I’m planning more.
Build a productive routine. Prior to the pandemic, my daily routine included waking up to a meditative recording, journaling, exercising and then heading off to an office to work a demanding job. Hubby traveled a lot, so I’d catch up with friends at dinner on weekdays before regrouping with him for fun weekend activities. That all changed by the first week of March when everything seemed to implode in the U.S.; crisis communications is an important part of my role as a Chief Communications Officer. Started working non-stop, fitting slivers of exercise in while barely catching my breath. Then last week this “new normal” started stabilizing for now, and I gained more control (for the moment) over my schedule. Today, I prioritize sleep and exercise to keep my immune system strong. I work intently during the day and if all is good, try to shut my laptop down before dinner and intermittently check my cell phone. Instead of constantly scanning news headlines, I’m back to reading a book before bed and that is helping me relax more. Think about what you need to accomplish or would like to change during this unprecedented time and structure a routine to achieve that goal.
Embrace fitness. Typically I get more energy from exercising with others. Spin classes delight me. I like strength training with fellow early morning gym-goers and waving hello to friends while grooving out on the elliptical or treadmill. All of which means that exercising at home has never been a regular practice or priority. So I’ve had to rethink my whole approach to working out at home. Most of the time I still exercise before work, but now take advantage of cardio walks at lunch or during business calls. As the authors of Peak Performance advise, it is great for our well-being to try new things and take a break from long-held patterns. For me, that means supplementing the set of kettlebells I purchased back in February with a series of online HIIT, cardio dance and Pilates classes. If you are new to fitness, check for beginner offerings on major apps and here is a great list of five in-home exercises to try from the Wall Street Journal.
Practice gratitude. Right now, we are living in very difficult times. Millions of individuals have been furloughed or laid-off. The death toll is rising from COVID-19, even as more people are recovering from initial bouts with the virus. It can be hard to remember this is a temporary situation and not the way life will be moving forward. Something that has helped me is consciously practicing gratitude each day. I list everything that I’m grateful for in my journal and let each item sink in, filling me with more goodness. Check out my Gratitude Rocket Fuel exercise if you’d like to start a quick but effective process to claim more gratitude.
What is helping you thrive throughout social distancing?